Elections Commission declares unable to conduct “free and fair vote” on Sept 28, as police surround building

Additional reporting by Leah Malone, Mohamed Naahii and Zaheena Rasheed

Special Operations Police have surrounded the Elections Commission (EC) secretariat with orders from Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz to take over the building and ballot papers should it proceed with holding an election on Saturday.

The Commissioner’s order follows the EC’s insistence yesterday that it was constitutionally mandated to hold the run-off within 21 days of the first round, in spite of an order from the Supreme Court to suspend the election indefinitely.

Elections Commission Fuwad Thowfeek told Minivan News “We will not be able to hold elections without support from the police. The police will stop any election preparation activity.”

Thowfeek said the EC members had been met by two officers “to get our assurance the preparation activities have been stopped.”

At time of press police had cordoned off the area around the Elections Commission and ordered journalists at the scene to leave the area. An EC official told Minivan News on condition of anonymity that EC staff were not being allowed to enter the building.

Following the EC’s meeting this afternoon prior to the arrival of police, during which it met with Commonwealth election observers and Indian High Commissioner Rajeev Shahare, EC staff issued a brief statement to the media.

“The Supreme Court has ordered security services to prevent any effort to hold the election tomorrow,” the EC statement read.

“It is the responsibility of this commission to conduct, manage and facilitate all elections and public referendums and ensure that all elections and public referendums are conducted freely and fairly, without intimidation, aggression, undue influence or corruption and ensure that citizens are able to fully exercise the right to vote.

“The commission does not believe that such an atmosphere presently exists in the Maldives,” the statement read.

It concluded by stating that the EC will announce a date for the second round run-off.

After the building was barricaded by police, Elections Commission President Thowfeek and EC members issued a longer statement:

As article 111(a) of the constitution of the Republic of the Maldives states that if no candidate receives over 50 percent of the vote, a run-off election must be held within twenty one days after the first election, this commission announced on September 14, 2013 that the second round of the 2013 presidential election shall be held on September 28, 2013 and made all preparations necessary to hold the election on that date.

However, of the state institutions whose assistance the Elections Commission requires to hold the election, the Ministry of Education took restrictive measures and said it would not provide premises to place ballot boxes and release employees who work as election officials, the Ministry of Home Affairs said it would not offer cooperation and threatened to arrest commission members, and the Ministry of Finance Treasury said it would not release funds and imposed restrictive measures. Further, the Maldives Police Service said it would not cooperate and ceased providing security requested by the commission for the second round of the election. And Assistant Commissioner of Police Hassan Habeeb called the chair of the Elections Commission on the night of September 26, 2013 and warned that [police] would not allow the election to take place.

Furthermore, we note with regret that some political parties have threatened to set ballot boxes on fire and death threats have been made against Elections Commission members, staff, and officials involved in the voting process. The commission believes that as a result, numerous irreparable damages will be caused to the general public, the Elections Commission and the state.

The Supreme Court order 06/SC-SJ/2013 (September 26, 2013) instructed and ordered the security forces of the Maldives under article 237 of the constitution to immediately put a stop to any preparations by the Election Commission for voting in the second round of the presidential election held on September 7, 2013. And police have now closed the Elections Commission office to deny entry to members, staff and any outside parties.

As article 170(a) of the constitution which states the responsibilities and powers of the Elections Commission stipulates that it is the legal responsibility of this commission to ensure the proper exercise of the right to vote and that all elections and public referendums are conducted freely and fairly, without intimidation, aggression, undue influence or corruption, and since the commission does not believe such an atmosphere presently exists in the Maldives, we announce that voting in the second round of the presidential election scheduled for September 28, 2013 has been postponed.

Thowfeek meanwhile appeared on Raajje TV and stated that the commission members have been ordered to cancel all meetings with foreign delegates. Minivan News understands that this was being negotiated at time of press.

A Minivan News journalist inside the Elections Commission building said that as of 10:30pm the police outside had not entered the Elections Commission, apart from EC bodyguards and the officers negotiating with EC members.

MDP Chairperson Moosa Manik in statement expressed concern over the security of the Election Commission’s database should police be allowed access to the Commission’s premises.

Minivan News understands that as of midnight, ballot papers remained in the custody of elections officials.

Thowfeek left the Elections Commission shortly after midnight. He told Minivan News: “I feel disappointed after working so hard, to have to drop the second round. It is a big loss to the country.”

“We just have to wait for the Supreme Court response. We don’t know what their verdict will be. From Sunday, we will release all the temporary staff and we will rehire when we know when the run-off will take place,” he said.

Police order

The police order issued by Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz specifically instructs police to:

  • Stop anyone who disobeys Supreme Court order 2013/SC-VA-J/02 and tries to proceed with voting on 28 September 2013”
  • oversee security of ballot boxes for the 2013 presidential election at their designated locations, and stop anyone from transporting these materials [in an] attempt to start voting
  • take over the main elections commission, ballot papers if the [EC] decides to or attempts to hold the second round of presidential election on 28 September 2013, and oversee the security of polling booths and control the access to [polling stations] and ensure materials cannot be transported elsewhere for voting
  • As soon as this order is released, the head of the police officers deployed to the islands to oversee security of voting, must meet with the elections commission’s focal point and present Supreme Court’s 2013 SC-VA-J/02 and 2013/SC-SJ?06, and inform them it is against the law to proceed with a second round of polling on 28 September 2013, and advise them not to do so, and inform them the police will stop them if they attempt to do so
  • Inform the police commissioner immediately if a member of the Elections Commission has been detained for disobeying Supreme Court order 2013/SC-VA-J/02

The orders also apply to resorts and industrial islands, request police to “respect the human rights” of those detained, and use “minimal force” in detaining those who disobey the Supreme Court’s order.


17 thoughts on “Elections Commission declares unable to conduct “free and fair vote” on Sept 28, as police surround building”

  1. Very misleading title designed to scare, to shock and awe foreign readers

    The police are there not to prevent Elections commissions doing its duty. May be progergenda is a fair game in war..

  2. Hey Bloody Mary, how about you get to the warzone, instead of staying in your fancy hotel and writing propaganda?

  3. This is the reason why you have to vote for Anni. It looks like the country is under judicial tyranny backed by those who masterminded the coup with the gang who are threatening with guns, baton and teargas. It is obvious that this is not about democracy and rule of law. This is just struggle of some rogue people (the so called Supreme Court and police) who are doing everything to survive and opportunists taking advantage of these rouge people either to save the face for their failures or scoring on some dirty politics. The rogue parties are with upper hand one with guns and the other with constitutions. It seems there is no option for the democratic movement unless you shed your blood and risk total anarchy and destruction. You have two option; destruction or wait and see what happens next and see if people are allowed to exercise their freedom to choose their leader just vote for democracy and let again start over with agenda of reforming judiciary and police.

  4. Use all means necessary to achieve your ends.

    Just like The Donkey-beards are using intimidation and violent tactics to divide, isolate and force-feed their heaven-programs on all of us.

    Police using what they can, MDP doing what they do best, DRP exercising their long-armed deadly poker game, adhaalath being the poison in everywhere, Qasim being his normal, the arrogant bastard...

    Go Maldives go!!!!

  5. Sorry @Bloody Mary, beg to differ here - this is not misleading. This is what is happening. Those who do not want to see will not see. More fools them. This is the same old coup machine in operation. We all know the characters - a bit like tired soap actors who don't realize their heyday is over. The propaganda comes from these same people, that is an integral part of the outdated but trundling machine. Whatever they say no one is fooled. If the machine does not want to uphold the Constitution the only way it can do it is by brute force. And brute force is all it knows and has. Desperate times call for desperate measures. A rat knows when its cornered and these rats are doing what cornered rats do - hitting out - this time at the heart of our nation. They are the law breakers, these excuses for a judiciary, making a mockery of our fledgeling democracy, founded on struggle and sacrifice. A mafia trying to hold onto its shell company -which happens to be the Republic of the Maldives. If they have forgotten, the first round of votes reminded them of who they are - the sad relics of an even sadder 30 year old blot on our history. One day, like all blots - you will be erased from our history as something we would all rather move on from. Moving on - that is what we are trying to do - looking ahead. Indeed, where democracy is concerned, this curve ain't for slumping. No sir it ain't. The long game is where its at.

  6. ToxicT, let me explain. Bloody Mary is one of those filthy, foreign mercenaries the yageengang hired.

    The truthfulness of this heading has made it feel shock and awe, as it is a foreign agent working for money and nothing more.

  7. This fight is between disproportionately heavy foreign influences in the country. I sincerely wish this did not have to happen.

  8. This Country is becoming a comedy piece. They cannot hold a simple election but I had heard a Lady Government Official joking about the (delay in announcing the results of) US Elections.

  9. Foreign influences.. Seriously?

    And can you give one good reason why other countries want to influence the people here?

  10. I am book to go to Bandos Resort in 2 weeks time,I hope my travel insurance will refund the cost of trip, it looks very dangerous in the Maldives now.

  11. Wake up Locals of Maldives....You had been lulled by your so called "educated abroad" Locals, that Expatriates are evil....But see what happens now...they cannot run the Country properly as each one of them is interested in himself/herself than the Country.

  12. tsk tsk on Sat, 28th Sep 2013 1:44 AM

    "This fight is between disproportionately heavy foreign influences...'

    An exaggeration but yes you have a point. By manipulating Islamic sentiments in the name of defending Maldivian sovereignty, the PPM wish to hand airport development project over to the Chinese. Where would the sovereignty be in that? I don't want to speculate on whether MDP should return airport project back to GMR (Indian interests) though it would seem geo-politically strategic given India are nearest big brother.

    What is alarming though is how easy it seems to manipulate Islamic sentiments, meant to protect Maldivian sovereignty, to betray Maldivian sovereignty.

    This is why it is so important to temper religious conviction with reason and critical thinking, a scientific, enquiring mind to think through what is REALLY happening.

    That's why I like MDP. I don't doubt that the MDP have some of their own manipulative games going on, but at least they are not using Islam this time around as that game is dangerous, give the Sheikh's a little hope and the hope becomes violent megalomania inside their heads. When the Sheikh's realize PPM have deceived them they will retaliate viciously.

    I like MDP's recently liberal approach to Islam.

    Being that you can't rule without some appeal to at least a very moderate Islam, I love Dr. Shaheed's reasonable approach to interpreting Islamic text.

    Critical thinking is important in preserving Maldivian sovereignty, and, PPM are using religious conviction to repress clear thought more than MDP this time around.

  13. Ben Plewright..asking for "Scientific and enquiring mind"..Instead You can ask for the moon.

    They need not need expatriates to take their Country downhill (as they usually allege)...their own Politicians/Businessmen/Educated Countrymen will do that for them.

  14. tsk tsk,

    "This fight is between disproportionately heavy foreign influences in the country. I sincerely wish this did not have to happen."

    You wished for a street mob empowered by a rogue security apparatus to overthrow a democratically elected government. At least you condoned the act. You applauded the arbitrary injustice meted out by the courts, which were themselves illegitimate (article 285 of the constitution ignored to pave way for ex criminals and unqualified loyalists to be sworn in as judges), by your own words a "compromise".

    Now we have a regime which, when faced with their demise at the ballot box, desperately seeking quasi-legitimate excuses to delay/annul the electoral process. In this process they run roughshod over and delegitimising the possibly only well functioning Independent Commission of the Maldivian State.

    When you do not do right by your family, the neighbours are forced to step in to feed your kids. This is exactly what is happening. Do not lament foreign influences when you cannot display the humility required to bow down to the will of the people.

  15. THis guy Thoufeeq had clearly violated our constitution by helping MDP to rig then votes and allowing Bangalhis to vote in ten first round.

    This guy had admitted that there were numbers of ID issued to unknown people and those guys had registered to vote and the guy never did a proper investigation and now trying to hide the truth.

    His action long in then recent few days are proof of his guilty.

  16. I've heard of 1 mistake with an ID card given to a Bangladeshi national. Great argument you have there.

  17. No doubt the local scene is very much characterized by political unrest and harmful competition.

    I was merely mentioning the monstrous by-product of that tension (some say it is the initial catalyst rather) - that of foreign influence on politics since Qayyoom lost his hold on power.

    A lot of us like to talk about Maldives and its small population being insignificant - I do not contest that we are and the name of our country is BUT not its geographic location. This is no conspiracy theory. There is a lot of foreign interest in the Maldives. A lot of us mistakenly think international politics is guided by altruism and values - maybe a little - but 95 percent of it is realpolitik. The main reason why we have landed ourselves here this time around is due to competing foreign interests.

    Anyone who thinks the Waheed-administration could have pulled off their "power-transfer" or this recent charade without powerful international support has a lot to learn.


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